SA Australians of the Year announced

Last night, the Australian of the Year awards were announced, with four amazing South Australians taking home the four prestigious titles.

Last night, the Australian of the Year finalists for South Australia were brought together for the announcement of the 2021 recipients of the award. 

They were among 16 South Australians in the running to be named the state’s Local Hero, Young Australian, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year, including an Olympian, a vaccination researcher and a war veteran.

Professor Helen Marshall was announced as the South Australian Australian of the Year for her vaccination research, recognised for her dedication to vaccinology and infectious disease, as well well as the ongoing advice she has provided about COVID-19 and meningococcal B to the CHO, Nicola Spurrier.

“At the heart of our community are those who recognise a need and are willing to make a difference,” said Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson AC in her executive statement last night. 

“Some have overcome challenges and assisted fellow South Australians to become the best they can be. Others are tireless in their resolve to promote inclusion and opportunity. They are our heartbeat.”

South Australia Australian of the Year | Professor Helen Marshall 

Professor Helen Marshall is one of Australia’s most celebrated and recognised vaccination researchers. Specialising in vaccinology, public health and infectious diseases at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, Helen has been involved in game-changing studies that have had a global impact. 

Since 2004, Helen has published 211 peer-reviewed papers and been awarded 17 research grants totalling more than $33 million. She’s also been the recipient of three National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowships. 

During the pandemic, Helen has provided advice about meningococcal B and COVID-19 to the South Australian Minister for Health and the Chief Public Health Officer. 

South Australia Young Australian of the Year | Dr Trudy Lin 

Recognised as one of the youngest 20 practising Dental specialists in Australia, Dr Trudy Lin took home the title of South Australian Young Australian of the Year last night. Dr Lin has been providing oral healthcare to people with disabilities, psychiatric illnesses, and complex medical issues such as cancer, as well as those experiencing homelessness and domestic violence. 

Dr Lin’s passion for dentistry was kindred when she was a young child, after witnessing the impact of poor oral health had on her father’s life, particularly his social, psychological and physical wellbeing. Spurred on by her childhood, Lin specialized in Special Needs Dentistry and completed a research thesis on implementing a triaging tool to improve oral healthcare access for people with disabilities. 

Dr Lin’s strong work ethic continues to help improve access to oral healthcare for all Australians. 

South Australia Senior Australian of the Year | Mark Le Messurier

Mark Le Messurier has devoted his life to improving the self-worth, wellbeing, mental health and life outcomes of young people. He focuses on who he calls the ‘tough kids’ – those who are struggling in some capacity. This includes children with disabilities, global developmental delays, disadvantages, disorders, neglect, or a combination of issues. 

After a 20-year teaching career, Mark opened a private-practice consultancy to mentor children and teenagers who needed support beyond the school system, and to coach parents. 

His goal has always been to create environments that set children and adults up for success. He’s authored numerous books for teachers and parents, including coauthoring What’s the Buzz? – a world-class social and emotional literacy education program. 

It’s become a standard course in the training of teachers, counsellors, psychologists, social workers, and youth workers in over 90 countries. Mark’s generosity and consideration for others is profound, far-reaching, and life-changing. He’s helped many families and is a relatable role model and mentor. 

South Australian Local Hero | Monique Bareham 

Ten years ago, Monique Bareham received a cancer diagnosis. Like many people who go through cancer treatment, she was left with lymphoedema – a chronic, debilitating and incurable condition caused by damage to the lymphatic system. 

Monique soon realised South Australia was the only state without a compression garment subsidy program. This meant many people living with lymphoedema were going without these necessary medical items. Wanting to make a difference, Monique joined the Lymphoedema Support Group SA, now Lymphoedema Association SA Inc., and soon took on the role of president. 

After years of attending meetings, gathering personal experiences from people living with lymphoedema, and lobbying the state, the South Australian government announced a compression garment subsidy scheme in July 2020. 

Such a breakthrough would not have been possible without Monique’s efforts. Monique remains tireless in her advocacy for the lymphoedema community across South Australia. 

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the South Australian nominees for their contributions.

“The diversity of the South Australia nominees is a great reminder of the variety of ways in which our communities are built and supported,” said Ms Brand.

“All the nominees are to be celebrated for their achievements. They provide inspiration for others to pursue dreams and give us reason to reflect on how we can all play a part in making a difference.”

To find out more, head to the Australian of the Year Awards website.

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